Major League Baseball returned to our screens on Thursday night, and boy did fans miss it.
ESPN’s coverage of the game between the New York Yankees and the defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals struck a huge home run, drawing the network’s largest ever audience for an opening night game.
According to Nielsen fast nationals, an average audience of 4 million viewers tuned in for the rain shortened affair, which saw the Yankees emerge victorious by a score of 4-1. The previous record was held by the 2017 opening game between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals, which drew 3.7 million pairs of eyeballs.
Last night’s Yankees-Nationals game was also the most-watched regular season MLB game on any network since 2011. The encounter was up a massive 232% from last year’s opening night telecast of Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners match up, which drew only 1.2 million viewers. 1,200,000 viewers.
In terms of the Washington D.C. market, the game scored an 8.4 rating, which is the highest ever score for a regular season MLB game on ESPN in that market. Its 7.8 rating in the New York market is the highest for a regular season MLB game on the network since 2015.
Following on from the opener, the San Francisco Giants-Los Angeles Dodgers game swung for the fences as well, delivering 2.8 million viewers. That’s the largest ESPN audience ever for a MLB regular season late night game.
All MLB games are currently being played without fans, of course, however, Fox Sports announced plans earlier this week tofill seats with dozens of digital doppelgangers, all of whom can make movements that emulate what a crowd might look like from afar.
This year’s MLB season will be shorter due to the coronavirus.